In part two of The Black Hound, my Victorian Gothic paranormal werewolf story, Bella and Kate, grow closer to the anger of Zillah.
What will happen to the two young women? And are Kate’s suspicions about the beast on the moors true?
She could hear Kate calling to her. She struggled against Zillah, struggled to get free.
And then she was awake.
“Bella, shh, you’re alright.”
Kate was there, holding her, stroking her hair. She started to relax, to breathe again. She was safe: the dog was gone. Long gone.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“It’s alright,” Kate said, still holding her, “it was just a bad dream.”
“How did you know?”
“I heard you call out.”
“I couldn’t sleep, I was passing the door. But I ought to go: it’s very late.”
“Please stay.” Isobel wasn’t sure she could bear to be alone anymore.
Kate glanced at the door as if thinking that someone might burst through at any moment. Then she climbed in between the sheets, wrapping her arms tightly around Isobel who backed into her, feeling warm and safe; protected. As Kate leaned over and kissed her softly on the cheek, she felt a rush of happiness that she hadn’t felt since being at Lansdowne.
“You shouldn’t have to stay in this place,” Kate whispered.
“I don’t have anywhere else I can go,” she said, and as she slowly gave into sleep, held tightly in the gentle arms of a beautiful girl, she decided she was happy where she was.
The next evening Isobel was surprised to see Zillah in the drawing room, staring into the fire.
“Good evening, Aunt,” she said, staying by the door, unsure if she should take a seat or wait for an invitation.
Zillah glanced across at her.
“I saw her last night.” She spoke quietly, matter-of-factly, but there was an air of threat in her voice.
“Saw who?” Isobel asked, unsure if there had been some visitor she hadn’t been told of.
“Don’t play with me, girl. I saw her go into your room last night and I saw her leave your room again this morning.”
Isobel was horrified: she hadn’t even realised that Zillah had been able to leave her bed, let alone stalk the halls.
“I had a nightmare. She came to comfort me.”
“I’m sure she did,” Zillah said. “I will not have that whore in my house any longer. She will be gone in the morning.”
“What!?” Isobel was aghast. “You can’t let her go–”
Zillah turned, enraged, strode across the room and grabbed Isobel’s face with one hand.
“Make no mistake, child,” she hissed, “you are mine. You are mine to look at, mine to watch over, and, if I so choose, you are mine to have. You are my possession and I will not have a servant girl taking to your bed.”
Zillah pushed her back and Isobel stumbled. She turned and fled the room.
“Come back here, girl!” Zillah called, but Isobel had no intention of going back. She had to find Kate, had to tell her, had to stop her from leaving.
By the time Isobel found Kate in the servants’ yard, she was so distressed by the violent encounter she could hardly speak.
Kate swept her up into an embrace.
“What on earth has happened?” she asked, holding her tightly.
“She says you have to leave.”
“I know,” Kate said slowly, “she told me an hour ago. I will travel in the morning.”
“But you can’t go!”
“I have no choice, Bella.”
“But I don’t know what I shall do if you’re not here!” Her voice was becoming choked: she hadn’t fully realised how much it meant to have Kate close to her.
“I’m sure you’ll manage.” She spoke cheerfully as if leaving was nothing, a mere trifle, and Isobel only felt more desperate to make her understand.
“I don’t think I can face it!” she said. “I don’t think I can face life without you.”
Kate stared at her for a moment and wiped a tear from Isobel’s cheek, smiling at her, a half-smile; a painful smile.
“I don’t think I can face life without you either,” she whispered. Then she leaned forward and kissed her, a soft, gentle kiss on the lips and Isobel took her in her arms. Holding her, kissing her back and pulling her closer, tighter, she couldn’t let her go.
“So, this is where I find you.”
Isobel pulled back to see Zillah standing at the kitchen door, a look of disgust on her face.
“In with the filth and the dogs.” She marched forward and grabbed Isobel’s arm.
“Let go!” Isobel shouted, twisting out of Zillah’s grasp. The Marquise snarled and slapped her hard across the face with the back of her hand.
Isobel stumbled and fell to the ground, the shock rendering her motionless for a moment before the rage and fear washed over her. She scrambled up from the cobbled yard and ran.
She ran through the yard, to the front of the house and out of the open gates onto the moors.
She heard Kate calling after her, but didn’t care. She wasn’t going back to that house, she wasn’t going back to that woman. She urged herself to run faster across the uneven ground. The sun was just setting but the moon was bright enough for her to see her way.
Suddenly Kate was upon her. “What are you doing?” she shouted, angry in her panic.
“I will not go back. I will not go back to that woman!”
“You have to go back, Bella, you’re in danger out here.” She glanced up at the full moon and then they looked across the horizon to see Zillah, silhouetted against the setting sun and heading towards them.
“RUN!” screamed Kate. Her voice was filled with panic, she looked at Isobel. “Run, get to the house, don’t look back, RUN!”
She did as she was told, the fear in Kate’s voice frightening her into obedience. She followed a different path, avoiding Zillah, but then she heard the wolf. The same blood-curdling howl she’d heard the night before: it was close. She sped up: they had to get back to the house, they had to outrun it.
Suddenly there was a scream, a high-pitched, gut-wrenching scream, a final scream. She turned, she couldn’t see Kate. She had to go back, she had to find her, she could have fallen; it could be her screaming.
Then she saw it.
Standing on the peak of a hill, black as death, its bright, shining eyes turning to look at her.
There was nothing she could do. There was nothing she could do but turn and run. Isobel pelted across the moor, stumbling but not falling as she sped toward the gates of the house, clanging them closed behind her.
Then she stopped. If she bolted the gate, she locked them both out; she would be trapping Zillah and Kate on the moors with the hound.
She stared out into the darkness, desperate, hoping to see some sign of Kate.
But then she saw the hound, bounding towards her across the moorland.
She bolted the gate and ran to the house.
“By dogs, you say!” The plump, greasy lawyer eased himself back in his chair. “I had no idea.”
“Wolves,” Isobel corrected.
It had been over a month but she still felt numb. It was too hard to imagine and too difficult to think about.
“I didn’t think we had such things.” He shook his head and muttered as he chewed on his pipe. “She left you everything, of course.”
“I understand,” said Isobel, nodding slowly.
“All you have to do is sign the final terms, and the house is yours. Ah tea!” he said, turning as the door opened and the tea tray, laden with cakes, was brought in and set down on the table.
“Will that be all?”
Isobel looked up at her and smiled. There was just a small, fading scar marking her beautiful face, the only remnant of that night.
“These really are wonderful cakes, my compliments to the cook!” He looked at Kate, rubbing his sweaty hands together as he sat forward and reached for the largest cream pastry on the tray. “And, if I may be so bold,” he said through mouthfuls, “what extraordinary eyes you have.”
MAGIC & ROMANCE
Vampires and werewolves, confused teens and surfers, corporate bosses and knights in shining armour, are just some of the characters that thrill, kill, and fall in love in this compelling collection of funny, exciting, magical, and adventure-filled stories.
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